The Best Restaurants in Charleston SC for Dinner, Lunch, and Breakfast

Excellent restaurants in Chareston, SC. can be found around every corner. Everyone knows Charleston is a foodie city making it a popular tourist destination especially if one of your travel goals is to enjoy culinary delicacies. While it is difficult to choose where to eat with so many great options, especially if your visit to the Holy City is only for a few days, the good news is you can rarely go wrong. The competition is steep so if a restaurant in Charleston remains open there is generally a pretty good reason why!

We plan to update this list of some of our favorite restaurants in downtown Charleston frequently since it is not uncommon for restaurants to close and new ones spring up. Our goal with this resource is to provide you with up to date information on the best places to eat during your visit. We chose to break it down by breakfast, lunch, and dinner giving you a quick way to find exactly the type of food you are looking for.

We decided to use dollar symbols in the reviews to represent the average price range of a meal for one person in that restaurant.
 Here is the breakdown:

$ = Price range per person varies from $1 - $10
$$ = Price range per person varies from $11 - $20
$$$ = Price range per person varies from $21 - $30
$$$$ = Price range per person varies above $31+

Restaurants Serving Dinner Only

R. Kitchen

R. Kitchen is among the best destinations in town for contemporary American cuisine, taking Lowcountry traditional dishes to the next level. Reserve well in advance. It has an intimate kitchen-like setting with great personal service. You can sit inside and watch the chef prepare your meal and explain the food or sit outside and enjoy your meal on the covered patio in the West Ashley location. Open for dinner seven days a week with a fixed menu each night of five courses for a per person charge at both locations.

Dinner in Charleston at R. Kitchen

On their menu, you'll find items like a rib-eye steak and shrimp pasta with garlic oil alongside chicken enchiladas and empanadas with Verde sauce. Exotic desserts such as Pears reduced in Mirin with honey, pumpkin seeds, strawberries and goat cheese.

Customers say, “it is a one-of-a-kind experience”, “The flavors were amazing”, “It was educational and entertaining”, “…a neat place to celebrate a special occasion or just a nice night out.”

Price Range: $$$$

Downtown Location: 212 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

Website: rutledgekitchen.com

Phone: (843) 789-4342

FIG

FIG (Food Is Good) has become a top culinary destination for both locals and tourists. The restaurant projects a comfortable bistro ambience and has some of the best food in Charleston. FIG’s philosophy is to use the freshest ingredients from local farmers and fishermen, creating farm-to-table offerings so that the dishes exude the flavor of the season. They state their goal is to make “guests feel special, comfortable and well taken care of.” FIG’s chef brings his South American background and a French flair to Southern dishes. His creativity produces dishes such as ricotta gnocchi with lamb Bolognese, fish stew Provençal and their famous, indispensable Brick Pressed Chicken.

Fig Restaurant in Charleston SC

Price Range: $$$$

Location: 32 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

Website: eatatfig.com

Phone: (843) 805-5900

The Ordinary

The Ordinary is a Southern seafood and oyster bar developed by the same team as FIG with the same philosophy. They strive to support local and regional fisherman, crabbers, oystermen and producers. The Ordinary is anything BUT ordinary, being housed in a 1920’s bank building on Upper King Street giving you a ‘slice of history’ with your meal. The elegance of that period is seen in the white marble, the bistro tables and a mezzanine overlooking the spacious dining room. This is the place for seafood lovers to sample or feast on all the ‘fancy’ seafood offerings that feature an assortment of cold and hot seafood dishes ranging from oyster raw bar to full menu items. Offerings for vegetarians include a savory Zucchini Carpaccio, a creative entree with pine nut, mint, basil, and Parmesan. The lobster roll, oysters on the half shell, crudo, the crispy oyster slider and the cold local Wahoo served with plumcot, wasabi, and Thai basil are favorites. And, save room for a mouth-watering dessert. Gluten-free options available.

The Ordinary Interior

Price Range: $$$$

Location: 544 King Street

Website: eattheordinary.com

Phone: (843) 414-7060

Reservations required for dinner
Bar and patio areas have first come first served seating

Revival

Revival calls itself a Modern Southern Eatery. They say, “[Revival has] a focus on recipes and/or ingredients from South Carolina's past. We have worked with local farmers to "revive" certain ingredients and utilize them in our dishes. A sample of these ingredients include the previously extinct Nostrale rice, Jimmy Red grits, or the Bradford Watermelon.” Revival takes historical Southern dishes and uses modern cooking methods to take the menu to a new level. Revival also offers seafood and has vegan and gluten-free options. Exceptional service and live local music on Wednesday – Saturday 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm. Located in historic downtown Charleston a block or so away from Joe Riley Waterfront Park.

Revival Charleston

Price Range:  $$$ to $$$$

Location: 162 E Bay St

Website: revivalcharleston.com

Phone: (843) 414-2335

Circa 1886 Restaurant

Circa 1886 Restaurant is a fine-dining restaurant with good service that offers traditional Lowcountry cuisine expertly crafted into superb dishes using locally sourced ingredients; thus, the menu changes with each season.

Circa 1886 blends modern day cuisine with the Lowcountry’s extensive culinary history.  From dishes like Broken Arrow Axis Venison, sunchoke hash and sunflower seed butter to Piedmontese Oxtail with conch fritter and mustard greens, the flavors tastefully join to tell the history of the multinational influences of the Lowcountry. The restaurant offers drinks such as delicious prosecco, champagne or grand Marnier and luscious desserts of chocolate soufflés, ginger ice cream and bread pudding.

Located in the original carriage house of the historic Wentworth Mansion, Circa 1886. The quiet atmosphere is ideal for a business meeting, or a perfect romantic setting for a small party, a wedding rehearsal or celebrating any special event.

Circa 1886 Restaurant exterior at night

Price Range:  $$$ to $$$$

Location: 149 Wentworth St.

Website: circa1886.com

Phone: (843) 853-7828

Charleston Grill

Charleston Grill is a top-rated fine-dining restaurant with a French twist and an extensive wine menu. Lowcountry classic dishes are prepared with an international flair to create distinctive flavors. Locally sourced ingredients support local businesses making the menu pleasantly diverse. Among the offerings you’ll discover are unique culinary renderings of rabbit and duck, crab, shrimp and oysters. To everyone’s delight, the menu has four different, exceptional styles of cooking from which to choose.

The luxurious mahogany walls that display local art, coupled with great service and delicious food make the Charleston Grill a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Charleston Grill fine dining

Price Range:  $$$ to $$$$

Location: 224 King Street

Website: charlestongrill.com

Phone: (843) 577-4522

California Dreaming Restaurant and Bar

California Dreaming Restaurant and Bar is a mix of American classics and favorites such as the California Dreaming Salad. While not downtown it is literally just across the water and Captain Dave can take you there by boat if you like. Food is prepared from scratch daily. Its casual dining family-friendly atmosphere coupled with panoramic views of the Ashley River from floor to ceiling windows is a stunning backdrop for family celebrations or a romantic dinner.

There is a wrap-around deck with a bar that is easily accessible by boat when you have a complimentary boat slip, but the outdoor dining has a no-reservation policy and has a limited menu. It’s more of a bar atmosphere on the water with the same phenomenal panoramic views of the River.

Awarded Best Waterfront Dining and Best Salad by City Paper, 2004-2020.

Patio dining is dog friendly; Offers Kids Menu, Catering, Online Ordering & Curbside-to-go, Gluten-free options

California Dreaming Charleston SC

Price Range:  $$$

Location: 1 Ashley Point Drive

Website: californiadreaming.rest

Phone: (843) 766-1644

Restaurants Serving Lunch & Dinner

East Bay Deli

East Bay Deli is a favorite place for lunch although it’s open for dinner and beyond. Known for their great service, big selection of hot and cold made-to-order sandwiches, salads, and soups as well as baked potatoes, hamburgers, and hot dogs. A great menu from appetizers to fantastic dessert choices. East Bay Deli has fast service and great food coupled with clean tables and bathrooms making this a popular eatery.

Lunch in Charleston at East Bay Deli

They also offer catering options to fit any-sized meeting or event including hot and cold offerings as well as boxed lunches. If you are renting a beach house for a family reunion, planning a destination wedding, or just have a large group you want to feed make sure to check out their Charleston catering options.

Conveniently located downtown near the South Carolina Aquarium and featuring a diverse menu for everyone in the family this wins our best lunch in Charleston award.

Price Range: $ to $$

Downtown Location: 334 E Bay St. Ste H

Website: eastbaydeli.com

Phone: (843) 723-1234

Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co.

Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co. offers 20 house-brewed beers on tap as well as wine, and cocktails. The adjoining taproom restaurant that is open daily with their all-day casual food menu has plenty of indoor seating and even more spacious outdoor seating options on their patio or in their expansive courtyard and astro-turf field. Lovely atmosphere and the outdoor seating areas are dog-friendly. Happy Hour a/k/a Power Hour is 4 pm to 5 pm daily, with 1/2-off everything consumed in-house. Great food and service and the utmost cleanliness.

Lunch and dinner in Charleston at Edmunds Oast

Price Range: $$ to $$$

Location:  1505 King Street #115, Charleston, SC 29405

Website: edmundsoast.com

Phone: (843) 718-3224

The Obstinate Daughter

The Obstinate Daughter is located on Sullivan’s Island so it is not in Downtown Charleston but the food is so good we had to include it on our list. Most people that visit Charleston end up at the beach at some point and we love us some Sullivan's Island which tends to be a little less crowded than Isle of Palms. This casual restaurant and bar is a very popular favorite of locals and tourists alike. The friendly, efficient service along with the charming ambience adds to the positive dining experience. Make reservations well in advance.

The traditional Southern cuisine has a French, Italian, and Spanish flair with a wide variety from which to choose among Mediterranean style dishes, pizzas, and seafood to the Gnocchi alla Romana, served with a fried egg and brie, to their house-made pizza, house-made pasta (especially the seasonal pappardelle) and everything green. Take advantage of the variety and order a few items to share. The restaurant supports the local farms, so the vegetables and salads are always fresh.

The display of nautical elements creates a charming atmosphere along with the rustic look of the distressed and salvaged wood. Bluegrass music is played in the background, creating a soothing environment. When you have had your fill, you can take a leisurely walk on the beach to enjoy the warm ocean breezes.

The Obstinate Daughter

Price Range: $$ to $$$

Location:  2063 Middle St, Sullivan's Island

Website: theobstinatedaughter.com

Phone: (843) 718-3224

Halls Chophouse

Halls Chophouse is a fine-dining steak and seafood restaurant that is vegetarian friendly. It offers live music with a luxuriant décor. They use only USDA Prime Beef and also prepare wonderful seafood dishes, all cooked fresh to order. Halls Chophouse also has a surprisingly extensive wine list. It’s located in the center of Charleston, a short walk up King Street from Marion Square.

Halls Chophouse hosts the annual Braggin’ Rights Bash, The Bridge Run Afterparty, and the Rose´ Wine Tasting. They also can facilitate Private Dining, Weddings, and Special Occasion Parties.

Halls Chophouse

Price Range: $$$$

Location:  434 King St.

Website: hallschophouse.com

Phone: (843) 727-0090

Butcher & Bee

The Butcher & Bee has open-table or reserved casual dining in the family style that is child and dog-friendly with a super-friendly staff.

The restaurant is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner with outdoor seating available. Serving Local Lowcountry cuisine, as well as American, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, vegetarian and gluten-free foods with a full bar and takeout service.

Butcher & Bee serves quality food that is usually found at fine-dining establishments. Ingredients are from local farmers, fishermen and ranchers making the menu fresh and tasty, while at the same time supporting local businesses. Tasty baked goods are made on-site.

Butcher and Bee Restaurant

Price Range: $ to $$

Location: 1085 Morrison Drive

Website: butcherandbee.com

Phone: (843) 619-0202

82 Queen

82 Queen is Charleston’s historic French Quarter’s pearl known for their Southern hospitality. Their reinvented, modern take on traditional Lowcountry favorites are served in the elegant 19th-century dining rooms or in the heated brick courtyard underneath a beautiful Southern magnolia tree. They offer exceptional service for an affordable lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. From the award-winning She Crab Soup to classic Lowcountry fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, Jambalaya and crab cakes, 82 Queen is one of the finest places to dine in the heart of downtown Charleston.

82 Queen

Price Range: $$$

Location: 82 Queen St.

Website: 82queen.com

Phone: (843) 723-7591

Cru Café

Cru Café is off the beaten path in a classic 18th century Charleston single-style home with a casual atmosphere near the banks of the Cooper River. It has both indoor & patio dining for lunch and dinner with an emphasis on comfort foods. Offering a mix of Lowcountry favorites and gourmet creations, everyone can find their appetites satisfied. You can dine on their Four Cheese Macaroni or Thai Seafood Risotto or try one of the daily specials. For something lighter, you can choose Chinese Chicken or Duck Confit Salad with your favorite wine or beer. Then top it off with a scrumptious dessert.

Cru Café

Price Range: $$

Location: 18 Pinckney St.

Website: crucafe.com

Phone: (843) 534-2434

Bertha’s Kitchen

In May 2017, the James Beard Foundation recognized Bertha’s Kitchen with an America's Classic award, given to restaurants with "timeless appeal, beloved in their regions for quality food that reflects the character of their community." It has a casual ‘come-as-you-are’ atmosphere “where everyone is treated like family”.

This black-family-owned restaurant was birthed by (mother) Albertha Grant (Bertha) with her award-winning soul food “of the highest order”. Bertha turned her home-cooked operation into a popular restaurant that won the hearts and appetites of the neighborhood who stand-on-line when the doors open for lunch. Located in the big turquoise house on Meeting Street Road, Bertha’s children continue to cook and serve the dishes created by their mother. Southern comfort foods like crisp fried chicken, tender fried pork chops, mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, and red rice can be purchased for only $8 for a meal with two sides.

Her children leave an empty chair in the center of the room from which Bertha would instruct her children, assuring that her spirit continues to fill the dining room just like the wonderful aroma of her recipes.

Bertha’s Kitchen

Price Range: $ to $$

Location: 2332 Meeting Street Rd.

Phone: (843) 554-6519

Lewis Barbeque

The best BBQ in Charleston comes from Austin, Texas from which the renowned owner, Texas pit-master John Lewis hails. Lewis is a master of barbecue known for his melt-in-your-mouth brisket. He welded his own custom-designed smokers to create a true Central Texas barbecue in Charleston, SC, introducing the Holy City to the world of Texas BBQ. People will wait in long lines to get a taste of his mouth-watering smoked pork spareribs, beef ribs, “Texas hot guts” sausage, oxtail, or his legendary beef brisket. The menu is fairly small, but by the time you’ve made your way through the line, your tray of food will have been stacked with an array of meats and sides with generous portions. Even the sides like the mac and cheese are delectable.

When you arrive, you order meat by the pound at the counter where John Lewis slices up Central Texas barbecue, cut-to-order. There is a huge bar and backyard patio to sit and enjoy your meal or you can sit in the dining room, which is airy and full of reminders of Lewis’ Texas roots.

Lewis Barbeque

Price Range: $$ to $$$

Location: 464 N Nassau St.

Website: lewisbarbecue.com

Phone: (843) 805-9500

Hannibal’s Kitchen

Hannibal’s Kitchen serves Seafood, Gullah Style and Soul Food, Geechee Style. It is no-frills, authentic Lowcountry dining. This three-generation Black-owned restaurant spotlights seafood, but also offers soul food classics. Loved by locals and adventurous tourists. It has the best shrimp and grits in Charleston has become well known for its incomparable seafood dishes. During the breakfast and lunch rush, salmon, shrimp, and shark steak are the best-sellers.

Each day they feature a different Soul Food special: turkey wings, ox tails, BBQ ribs, cabbage, collard greens, mac & cheese, Hoppin’ John and red rice. But all the offerings have that home-cooked flavor everyone loves.

Located in an unpretentious orange building on Blake Street, Hannibal’s Kitchen would be described by many people as a visually unattractive place, but the food makes up for its lack of ambience in taste, making it one of the best restaurants in Charleston. It has been described as a welcoming place with comfortable seating and great food & great prices.

There are many people dedicated to preserving the Gullah and Geechee heritage and the diversity it creates in Charleston. Hannibal’s Kitchen attempts to preserve this rich culture by presenting authentic culinary dishes for the world to enjoy. They also do catering and take-out with Vegetarian options.

Hannibal's Kitchen

Price Range: $

Location: 16 Blake St.

Website: hannibalkitchen.com

Phone: (843) 722-2256

Restaurants Serving Breakfast & Brunch

Miller’s All Day

Miller’s All Day was conceived by “a team of passionate Southern chefs, a farmer and miller of great grains” who acquired an enviable Charleston address” to create a restaurant that is known as the best breakfast in Charleston! And at Miller’s All Day, it’s breakfast all day! Their motto is, “Because breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we make it…all day”, While they are open for breakfast, lunch, and brunch, the staples of eggs, pancakes and a fresh, hot cup of coffee is good at any hour of the day (and they have every type of coffee you could want).

They do not serve anything ordinary as their chefs create dishes with fresh local ingredients that range from the famous (pink) grits to bananas Foster inspired waffles with edges that stay crispy even with the sorghum syrup and meringue topping. Even a simple lunch of soup and sandwich crafted well is a big hit with customers. Great beer too!

Miller’s All Day

Price Range: $

Downtown Location: 120 King St.

Website: millersallday.com

Phone: (843) 501-7342

The Palmetto Café

The Palmetto Café offers a spectacular garden-style setting with massive glass windows that bring the outside into this casual restaurant. You also have the option of dining in the open-air lavish courtyard on balmy days. Make reservations.

The finest local produce is used to make the best Lowcountry breakfast. You can order å La Carte gourmet omelets, to a wide variety of Belgian waffles to Lowcountry shrimp & grits and breakfast meats & cheese or seafood with Rye toast points, every appetite will be satisfied. Or you can choose from the Chef’s Signature Breakfast menu which is a masterpiece of gourmet creations. Staff is friendly and food is amazing!

There are vegetarian friendly and gluten-free options.

The Palmetto Café

Price Range: $$$$

Location: 205 Meeting St.

Website: click here

Phone: (843) 722-4900

Breizh Pan Crepes & Deli

Breizh Pan Crepes & Deli serves traditional western French cuisine that owners Patrice and Celine learned from the best French master chefs at the “Ecole des Chefs”.

Authentic Brittany crepes are very thin, with special imported Buckwheat flour. The crepe batter is gluten free and contains no eggs. In the Sweet Crepes theg use eggs, sugar and whole milk, and white flour with Gluten. You can try fresh croissants baked and filled, bagels, omelets, and salads made from fresh produce daily. Coffee, Ice coffee, Cappuccino, Espresso, Famous Teas and soft drinks. Great quality food for a great price for breakfast or brunch. It’s a very clean, but small establishment with good service.

Gluten free, Dairy free, and Veggie Options Available. Takeout offered.

Breizh Pan Crepes & Deli

Price Range: $$$$

Location: 39 George Street at the corner of King St. & George St.

Website: breizhpancrepes.com

Phone: (843) 822-3313

Gnome Café

Gnome Café owner’s goal is to show patrons just how satisfying plant-based cuisine can be. They serve everything from decadent desserts to hearty sandwiches to healthy salads using quality ingredients that produce bold flavors creating meals to satisfy every customer. Coffee is also their passion. Stumptown provide the beans, providing a high quality brew. It is Vegetarian Friendly, with Gluten-Free options. Dine in or take-out.

Customers say: “The food here was incredible!”; “The staff was very friendly and welcoming, the service was excellent and fast, and the food was fantastic.”; “Excellent vegan choices.”; “We absolutely loved the Gnome Cafe. The food is outstanding.”; “Clean, immaculate, relaxing, charming setting.”

Gnome Café

Price Range: $$ to $$$

Location: 109 President Street

Website: gnomecafe.com

Phone: (843) 793-4931

Did we miss your favorite downtown Charleston restaurant?

Let us know what restaurant in downtown we left out that deserves to be here and why. Take a picture or two and send us your comments using the form below. Who knows ... maybe we will add it to the list. 

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